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Looking for Mr. Goodbar

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  3,888 ratings  ·  161 reviews
Looking For Mr. Goodbar, By Judith Rossner

Paperback book published by Pocket Books, April, 1976
Mass Market Paperback, 280 pages
Published September 3rd 1977 by Pocket Books (first published 1975)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 25, 2013 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Gary Wyatt
”To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 photo Seasons_zpsfae2e484.jpg

Professor Martin Engle broke off his four year affair with his student Theresa Dunn by quoting Ecclesiastes to her. Like a lion circling a herd of gazelles probing for the weakest member he had decided she was the right one to sustain his ego. She was just coming out of her ugly duckling stage and emerging from the shadows cast by the wings of her swan like sister. She is self conscious of her body
What I remember most about this book is how much it made me blush, and made my ears turn beet red. This would have been no issue, except for the fact that I spent the week reading it on my commute to work on a busy train. Each day that week I took for granted that my fellow commuters hadn't either (a)read the book or (b) watched the 70s film starring Diane Keaton. Ugh! Boy was I wrong. On one of the last days that week, after I'd nearly missed my stop with the last 23 pages hanging in the balanc ...more
Julie Ehlers


I'm a little conflicted. I'll be back.


Okay, I’m back.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a tough book to review. It gives away nothing to say it’s based on the real-life murder of Roseann Quinn, and this element makes it difficult to view the novel purely as a novel.

That’s unfortunate, because as a novel this book really, really works. It’s a bit dated, of course—that’s inevitable. But the language is simple and compelling, the characters are
I wish I could find a few reviews of this book from when it was originally published. I am sure that by not living through the women's lib movement & the sexual revolution, I am missing something from this book.

However, as a person who grew up in the 80's, this book dooesn't strike me as a "precautionary tale." Rather, I really, really dislike Theresa Dunn. This is a woman who rarely speaks up for herself & always lets others make her decisions for her. Then, she becomes upset when her
"Talking was so much more complicated than making love...fucking, she should call it, since it was hard to see how anything she did with him could be about love. To talk with people you had to ignore the way you felt and speak from the front of your face...or else go through the effort of distilling those feelings into something that made some kind of sense, was acceptable in some way. That was what words did, really, make some kind of order out of the dark jumble of feelings and perceptions and ...more
I saw the movie, starring Diane Keaton long ago and it stuck with me. The book was just as dark and dreary. Is it a 1970's statement about what happens to a reluctant feminist? Or is it simply the story of one confused woman. I think it can be read either way.
Nov 26, 2007 Stephy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not
I learned that even really badly written books on nasty subjects can make the best seller lists and stay there a long time. Many people have the judgment of turnips.
Virgilio Machado
Judith Rossner has impeccable literary credentials. [...] Looking for Mr. Goodbar is so good a read, so stunningly commercial as a novel, that it runs the risk of being consigned to artistic oblivion. That would be a mistake. The sureness of Judith Rossner's writing and her almost flawless sense of timing create a complex and chilling portrait of a woman's descent into hell that gives this book considerable literary merit.

This dismal tale is told in the co
Ronald Wise
I first read this book when it was a paperback best-seller in 1976 and I was 21. It packed a real punch then, but this time it whacked me in an entirely different way. In a cultural and technological sense this book has become somewhat dated, but the big difference in my reaction has more to do with the water that has passed under my bridge in the meantime.

For readers who have not experienced the hopes and frustrations of the nightlife pick-up scene, it might seem that this is the story of an un
This is one of those books, like Valley of the Dolls or Peyton Place, that you know better but you just can not stop reading it. You can feel your brain softening and your eyes and personality growing dull and you feel like you're being naughty because most of the story is really quite simply just about sex.

Written in 1975, just a few years after the beginning of the sexual revolution, and chock full of women's lib ideology, schoolteacher Theresa Dunn is the woman out searching not for love but
Ashley Scott
I don't know what to think about this one, if I'm being honest. I didn't dislike it, I found it interesting - only I have extremely mixed emotions when it comes to Theresa Dunn, ranging from empathy to anger and back again.

To keep myself from going insane and thinking the book to death, I think the important question to ask, after reading this, is not WHY Theresa becomes/is the way she is - because I have as hard of time sympathizing with her as I do resenting her - but rather just to accept th
Zoe Crosher
Beginning section describing the murder from the cowboy's POV is totally unnecessary and seems like a cinematic embellishment. I almost stopped reading. But as the story progresses, I realize it is part of this 70s/80s genre of attempting-to-be-liberated women that in the end gets punished for this new found sexual freedom (the worst in this case = death.) Think Erica Jong, Judy Bloom's Women, etc.
Erin Biegel
While "like" or "love" may not be the correct verbs to describe my feelings about this book, I will say that it was so powerful that it left me in kind of a stupor for almost a week after I finished it. I then passed it on to my boyfriend, who had the same reaction. It's so deeply psychological, it manages to bore into your unsuspecting mind and emotions, and once it's there, it's hard to shake.
okay, saying i ''loved'' this book is not quite right--but i have to say it's brilliantly written. it's a perfect representation of the dark side of the sexual revolution of the '60's and '70's yet still rings true as a representation of the insecurities that still haunt women.
♥ Marlene♥
One of my favourite books and I want to read again. Going to see if I can find it on my shelves.
Even nearly 40 years after it was published, this book continues to incite a decent amount of debate whenever anyone sits down to talk about it, and I guess I can sort of see why. I mean, I know that it can be read like as indictment against the liberalized sexuality of the late sixties -- woman discovers sex, woman DIES -- but ultimately I feel like that is perhaps a bit too simplistic.

Theresa is lost. She's lost from the beginning of the book and she's lost at the end of it, and the real trage
This was one of those couldn't-put-it-down novels. The feminist issues it addresses are perhaps not as fresh or as wildly political as they once were, but they are still relevant. Through Theresa, a young, outwardly nonchalant but inwardly vulnerable woman, Rossner addresses the 'battle between the sexes,' the pressure to be 'perfect' and the devastating effects of both on women like Terry in the 1970s.

Terry suffered from polio at a very young age, something that could have been lessened if her
Lisa Greer
I am speeding through this one, and 2/3s in, it is getting 5 stars. Yes, I'd seen the movie and it was harrowing. I will never forget it. But, wow, what riveting, compelling writing. I like the close character study and psychological character insights in this novel. I think Rossner does a nice job of showing the emptiness of modern life for so many women... and that was in 1975... at least the paperback I am reading. It is utterly chilling in so many ways, and it is even more painful reading it ...more
Sara Pauff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was just EHHH for me. Really didn't like Theresa much. Yes, she had a rough time as a kid, but she just wasn't a very nice person. Still .... not sure she deserved all she got. Kind of an odd story. Guess it might have been different had I read it back when it first came out.
A good solid book about the potential consequences of promiscuity before the age of AIDS.

People who live in this generation might not understand or appreciate this book. After all, we are living in a world without boundaries where sexting happens with people you've never met as easily as it does with someone you know, married people are fair game in the dating arena, and senior citizens are the fastest growing population to contract HIV.

Does anyone know of a book that speaks to this generation
in some ways this is a novel about the lethalities of catholic guilt; that each sin is a gateway to the next sin, and the scaffolding of those sins can lead to destructive behavior that leads to death. you could say that the novel's protag, terry, when leaving a good catholic boy who has been nothing but kind to her only for the reason that he doesn't want her to sleep with other people (this good catholic boy, james, is a lousy lay) she is literally asking for it when she gets murdered for pick ...more
L.  (I've Stopped Counting)
This is one of those oddities where the killer was vastly more interesting than the victim. The first chapter is focused on Gary as he confesses his crime and relates his messed up life. The book already had potential. But then we leave Gary behind and must chart the course of Theresa Dunn's emotionally unbalanced life. I kept wishing we could get back to Gary.

As another reviewer here aptly put it, Theresa is a hot mess. She's also a tad bit dull. I'm not saying I hate Terry, but I got tired of
Lindsay Luke
I didn't see the movie or read the book back in the 70s. I remember the preview for the movie distinctly. It had a scene depicting cockroaches in a sink full of dirty dishes. I had not yet seen anything like this in real life and it definitely made an impression. I wasn't old enough to go to R rated movies yet, and didn't really have any desire to see it. For some reason, I had not heard of the book. I read Fear of Flying and The Women's Room, so I'm not sure why this book never made it onto my ...more
Renee Deleon
Disappointed. I enjoy reading books about this particular decade and this book seemed to be on many "best lists" of the 1970's. The book was written in 1975, but most the plot takes place during the 60's. It isn't until the actual crime is committed that it is 1970. Anyone who is familiar with the title or the movie knows ahead of time that there are not going to be any surprises. I did not mind that the crime is described within the first few pages through a conversation between the police and ...more
Elizabeth Moeller
This novel is based on a real life murder of a young woman in New York City in the early 1970s that occurred when she brought a man home with her from a singles bar. At the time the murder was roped into the cultural conversation about the sexual revolution.
When I picked up this book I was expecting sort of a cheesy quicky fictionalization about a terrible murder. However, I was surprised to find that this book offered a really interesting exploration of how a woman comes into her sexuality and
Cheryl Anne Gardner
I think I read my Mom's copy of this book when I was like twelve or something. This book scared the crap out of me, and that fear blossomed into a lifelong love of psycho-dramas. I love to re-read it every ten years or so and it still gets to me. Inspired by the life and murder of Roseann Quinn in 1973, it is one of the top books in the Literary Crime Fiction arena along with In Cold Blood in my opinion.
Diane Schneider
I knew the general plot of this story, and I was a little unsure as to how the author filled an entire book, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is less a tale of a modern woman and her ultimate comeuppance than it is a story of what influences a woman to prefer anonymous sex to a monogamous relationship. I found it troubling, but only because this lack of self-worth can lead to a similar result not only in the early 1970's, but today. I know this book is open to criticism for implying that if ...more
Leslie Shimotakahara
Loved it! This novel particularly resonated with me because like Theresa Dunn, I suffered from scoliosis as a teenager, and it also left me with a sense of disfigurement that played out - to less devastating effects - in my relations with men.... My full review can be read at my blog,
This book was so shocking when I read it long ago. But, it was so compelling that everyone I knew was talking about it for months and months. And, even now, it's still part of our lexicon. In one way or the other, it changed most readers views.
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Judith Perelman Rossner was an American novelist, best known for her 1975 novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which was inspired by the murder of Roseann Quinn and examined the underside of the seventies sexual liberation movement. Though Looking for Mr. Goodbar remained Rossner's best known and best selling work, she continued to write. Her most successful post-Goodbar novel was 1983's August, about t ...more
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